The shift: Recognizing brainwashing…

“You know you are healing from him, when your memories of him are more bad than good. This is a great sign that a shift is happening in that your brain and mind recognize the truth of his character. Longing is replaced with reality.”

If you haven’t already done so, especially if you are a member of Facebook, I suggest “liking” and following this group. This is a wonderful resource for survivors in any stage of healing. Now, onto the post…

I am a little different from a lot of survivors, in that the reason I ran from my X-monster is BECAUSE I recognized the truth of his character. I didn’t leave, longing for a love I thought I had lost. I didn’t love him, still…in fact, I was completely and 100% afraid of him. I saw him, in the end, as pure evil and absolutely INHUMAN. Like a changeling. I don’t want to go into the details of what he did that created the shift or re-glorify him. I want to address the reasons why I was able to make the shift before leaving in the first place.

I want you to be able to recognize these things too. This is a lesson in real life. A lesson that is imperative to protect yourself from being a meal to a psychopath, or at least shorten the time with him. Once you learn these things, you will be able to spot them in motion, if you are dealing with a psychopath. You’ll be able to recognize what you are dealing with, sooner.

Before I continue, I realize that this entry might be very triggering. Please feel free to take breaks as needed, or forego reading it all-together for a while. DEFINITELY DO have a friend close by, to call if the effects are especially difficult.

It’s a little weird.. different.. you might think I was crazy before ever meeting the ..Spath. It’s WHY I recognized his M.O. It may or may not encourage you, or it might be an interesting read for you. Either way, I’m putting it out there.

When I was growing up, I was a student. We ALL were, but I took it to the extreme. I had an insatiable desire to learn everything that I could get my hands on. So, I set out to get my hands on everything I possibly could. I learned to read at the age of 4. I don’t know what I started out reading, but I was reading the backs of hairspray cans during that time…the 5 and 6 syllable ingredients, listed. I read encyclopedias for fun. By the time I was in high school,  I had already learned to play 4 different musical instruments. The rest I played by ear. I could play anything given time (like the oboe). At the same time, I was curious about a lot that I was hearing about. Brainwashing for one. I wanted to know the steps someone would take, and how it was done. This was all for knowledge sake, and not so I could put it into practice. My conscience is really obnoxious and loud! I could never hurt someone like that. I also learned that humans have a natural tendency to react a particular way to certain input or stimulus, such as by introducing just one word in a certain context, which would cause a person to react, accordingly. I watched and learned. I paid attention to my OWN reactions, which was a great learning tool. I was very curious about such things. In the wrong hands, this could be very dangerous for someone. I can’t say I HAVEN’T used this one to my own benefit, but I can say it was never used to hurt anyone. I’ve only used what I learned about human tendencies, but one time. With my daughter, who had been lying to me about taking something that belonged to me. I will say, it worked like a charm. Without realizing she had been set up, she WILLINGLY told me the truth about taking it. It was a matter of fact conversation, and she matter of factly told me. THEN she realized she was tricked into telling me the truth. The shock and disbelief on her face was comical.

It was by having this knowledge, that I was able to recognize what my X was doing to ME, that gave me the reasons why and the wherewithal I needed to get the hell away from him…and QUICKLY! He was very astute in this knowledge as well. He exercised this, in perfect detail. That’s why I say, “he was good at his game”. With all this knowledge, my already unhealthy view of love and relationships enabled him. I recognized it, but reasoned it away. Only later did things happen, that I couldn’t ignore the obvious anymore.

  • BRAINWASHING: This falls under the category of MANIPULATION, to the extreme. This took some time to recognize, for me, as it was cleverly disguised by and in his heightened state of paranoia. I only recognized this at the end, when I caught him trying to reprogram me in a hurry, because he KNEW he was failing. He panicked. This is a great website, which describes the steps in detail, quite nicely: A bit of history: Brainwashing techniques were used very skillfully against POW’s, in Korea, China, Russia, and so on. In the end, the captives actually spoke with joy about their captors. The POW’s were made to believe their propaganda, about how the US treated them, and their own citizens. This is just a quick run-down. The captors knew that the best way to defeat an army was from the INSIDE. Some POW’s stayed, and defected from the US, as a result. This is a little known fact. Each brainwashing step is copied directly from this website: I couldn’t describe each step any better. I will mention each step listed, but in order to view the descriptions and methods of each step, I’m going to recommend that you read the article. This article lists each as if the victim were a prisoner. I was not, in that I had my own home. He was still able to screw me up.
    • Keep in mind, each step is placed inside the realm of isolation of the victim. He/she is kept from an outside support network.
    • This falls under the steps to “breaking down the self”..These steps include,
      • Assault on identity: “This is a systematic attack on a target’s sense of self (also called his identity or ego) and his core belief system.”
        • An abuse target goes into the situation with a core belief system, whatever they identify with, but not limited to what you know to be true about yourself. Whether that be about him/her self, people around them, or religious beliefs, etc. The perpetrator works HARD to break the victim down at every opportunity. They’re goal is to keep the victim off balanced and anxious/afraid of further attacks. Here is one method…please click on this “Toxic Shock”
      • Guilt: “ The target begins to feel a general sense of shame, that everything he does is wrong.”
        • I don’t believe I really need to go into this because, as survivors, we understand this one perfectly. Know, however, that this is part of a calculated step to break us down and keep us teetering. The longer we are in this place, and the more constant the assault, the better we are prepared for the rest of the process, and the more the perpetrator can ingrain his/her abuse. 
      • Self-betrayal: “Once the subject is disoriented and drowning in guilt, the agent forces him (either with the threat of physical harm or of continuance of the mental attack) to denounce his family, friends and peers who share the same “wrong” belief system that he holds.”
        • For the victim of psychological abuse, this can take on different forms, all with the same goal: ISOLATION. It’s the reasons that the victim chooses to drop ties with his/her support group that can be different. I, personally, chose to isolate myself from my friends and family to PROTECT them from my then, boyfriend, and in turn, protect myself in a small way.
      • Breaking point: “With his identity in crisis, experiencing deep shame and having betrayed what he has always believed in, the target may undergo what in the lay community is referred to as a “nervous breakdown.”
        • This is the point that the victim’s anxiety and confusion is on overload. There comes a time where that overloaded state will manifest itself with a nervous breakdown, uncontrollable shaking and crying or other manifestations. Other’s might lose touch with reality, completely.
    • “The Possibility of Salvation”
      • ­­Leniency: ” With ­the target in a state of crisis, the agent offers some small kindness or reprieve from the abuse.”
        • This falls along the lines of the ‘Honeymoon Phase”. A break where the victim lets off his/her guard and might start to believe the rest of the abuse wasn’t real. The victim might learn to trust again. This is such an important piece, because at the first sign of niceties, the victim is craving it from the one they “love”. Very very dangerous.

From this point, I will leave you with the pieces of the definitions, directly from the website. In my case, I noticed a circular pattern to the abuse, prior to these next steps. Each one listed above, happened in a pattern. I began to recognize that my X was even more dangerous than I thought and started pulling away at this point. He tried to hurry up with the rest of the process, in his panic. It sounded something like this, “You are mentally unstable…you don’t need your friends…I’m trying to help you…no one else has ever been there for you…I’ve done nothing but tried to help you through this…No one has ever tried to help you but me.” (Trying to convince me he was my savior). It was here that I recognized a myriad of lies and manipulative tactics. Other things were said too, that alerted me. It was at this point, that all of my studies from years past came flooding back to me. I could see each step up to this point, in calculated succession. With one or 2 more things I was made aware of, I filed for a restraining order. Look how close he was to the finishing touches! The steps above, are the lengthiest. It takes time to break someone to the point of being receptive to the new thought processes and beliefs of the abuser.

      • Compulsion to confession: “For the first time in the brainwashing process, the target is faced with the contrast between the guilt and pain of identity assault and the sudden relief of leniency.”
      • Channeling of guilt: “After weeks or months of assault, confusion, breakdown and moments of leniency, the target’s guilt has lost all meaning — he’s not sure what he has done wrong, he just knows he is wrong.”
      • Releasing of guilt: “The embattled target is relieved to learn there is an external cause of his wrongness, that it is not he himself that is inescapably bad — this means he can escape his wrongness by escaping the wrong belief system.” (here, I must say: In the DV scenario, the abuser can use many different “beliefs” or scenario based tactics to bombard you with. He’ll use confusion and crazy making, keeping you on your toes, tearing apart your foundation, in order to make you receptive to his input.)
    • “Rebuilding the Self”
      • Progress and harmony: ” At this stage, the agent stops the abuse, offering the target physical comfort and mental calm in conjunction with the new belief system.”
      • Final confession and rebirth: “Contrasting the agony of the old with the peacefulness of the new, the target chooses the new identity, clinging to it like a life preserver.”

It is at this point that a person can become a victim of a full on disorder, “Stockholm Syndrome”.;

I hope that with this understanding, we can avoid this insidious abuse tactic. Perhaps you can use it to help other victims and survivors. Knowledge is most definitely power. This is one bit of knowledge that has proven to be invaluable to me. In my damaged state, without previously studying this, I wouldn’t have recognized it in my own relationship (though it took almost a year to fully recognize it, for me) and got out relatively quickly (just over a year of being involved with a psychopath). This is why there was no love lost when I got away. Just pure fear and a better understanding of the monster he IS.



3 thoughts on “The shift: Recognizing brainwashing…

  1. It’s strange to read this from the point of view of someone who grew up with it. I’m half a century and still struggle with not believing I’m always wrong. I’m finally no longer seeking the N’s approval. I finally have a solid foundation to what I believe, separate from the N. Thanks for sharing this, lifebegins45.

    1. I remember one point while in counseling. My counselor was asking me what I learned, and as I’m quite famous for (she was able to bring out this process while speaking, when it’s normally something I do while writing) I started putting the pieces of brainwashing together in my own relationship. I just wasn’t ready to “call it” yet. I was hit with a brick when I realized that was EXACTLY what I was dealing with!

      I’m so sorry that you had to grow up with this. Psychological abuse, uses a lot of these tactics, in the process. It’s not full-on brainwashing until a reprogramming is introduced. Keeping one unbalanced, feeling like they are on a tightrope and later second-guessing every action, reaction and thought they have, is all in an attempt to break down the victim. They use the honey-moon phase, skillfully, to continue the breakdown and unbalanced feeling. I call it the “shock and EEK” campaign.

      I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you, who lived with it your entire life, to begin the steps to reject this conditioning. You are a VERY VERY strong woman, Judy!

  2. Pingback: Manipulation by using human characteristics against the targets « My journey of healing from psychological abuse

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